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From Reclamation to Resilience: Restructuring Governance for Long-term Climate Adaptation
1  One Architecture & Urbanism (ONE)


Following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Tacloban City was left decimated. Since the storm, masterplans have proposed technical solutions, yet local and regional authorities charged with rebuilding efforts have struggled with implementation, leaving many plans unrealized and enabling business as usual; this is not unique to the Philippines. Cities around the world are grappling with managing and building resilience through standard governmental processes.

In 2017, One Architecture was awarded a grant from the Global Resilience Partnership to team with the Philippines Reclamation Authority (PRA) and other local stakeholders to pilot a series of ecological restoration projects drawn from a coastal protection masterplan.

As a case study, the Tacloban project confronts disjointed project management from fragmented resilience thinking, competing institutional interests, and a fractured system of concurrent masterplanning. Our key finding suggests that jurisdictional overlap and ambiguities are the primary impediment in building resiliency for disaster risk reduction in the Philippines

In a low-lying tropical city like Tacloban with its latticework of jurisdictions, the PRA is a central stakeholder with assets along the 36,000-km long coastline. While reclamation is in their name, the PRA is actively reframing their mission. With the increasing importance of disaster risk reduction, this prompted exploration into what makes a resilience authority?

  • How can we build resilience through streamlined processes that redefine institutional practices?
  • What organizational structures facilitate effective interagency coordination?
  • How can governmental agencies become part and parcel of resiliency?

It became clear that the incorporation of new modes of practice must focus on holistic integration. The Tacloban pilots aim to disentangle institutional authority and demonstrate how theory can reframe governance for integrated resilience planning. We hope this smoothing of agency functions can aid in advancing resilience planning from the bookshelf into practices focused on long-term implementation and adaptation.

Keywords: Resilience planning; coastal restoration; Typhoon Haiyan; nature-based solutions; project risks